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Teens dramatize ‘Miseducation’

Bryant Woodson (foreground left) and Donnevan Tolbert, both seniors at Cass Tech. ZENOBIA JEFFRIES PHOTO

Bryant Woodson (foreground left) and Donnevan Tolbert, both seniors at Cass Tech. ZENOBIA JEFFRIES PHOTO

Staff Report

DETROIT — Love. Trust. Betrayal. Envy. All are the makings of a good drama. And we all love drama — especially teens. On March 14-15, local teens from Teen HYPE (Helping Youth by Providing Education) will demonstrate how drama’s done in its ninth annual play, “Miseducation,” inspired by the 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

The play, written by Toni Patrick and directed by Detroit native Henri Franklin, takes place in the high-stakes performing arts industry, where image is everything and sex, drugs and bad relationships are frequently linked together.

“Miseducation” explores the challenges of making healthy choices when motivated by the desire for fame. A shady music manager challenges young aspiring entertainers to examine their ideas about love, money, the media and respect.

“Through ‘Miseducation,’ we give our youth a glimpse of what they may face when out in the ‘real world,’ as glamorous as it may seem,” says Ambra Redrick, executive director of Teen HYPE. “Each day, we empower teens to make healthy choices. But even after graduating, they may face similar peer pressures as what they experienced in high school.”

Franklin, who’s directing his fifth production for Teen HYPE, calls the production relatable. “They hit on things not touched on in previous (Teen HYPE) productions, like opportunities of right and wrong.”

Franklin gives the example of the 18-year old character Rikkay, a talented clothing designer who has the opportunity to make “side” money by selling his clothing outside of the only boutique that carries his clothing line.

“We haven’t come across that before,” says Henri, of teens being tempted with money and success.

The characters also struggle with love and relationships, parenting and self-determination as they fight to keep their performing arts center the open.

Detroit School of Arts student Destinee Williams plays the character Miss Maxine, the director of the Headliner performing arts center.

The 17-year-old music student says she sees a lot of similarities between the characters’ challenges and real life challenges.

It’s about self-determination, she told the Michigan Citizen.

“Students in the play want to push through and make it, no matter what. Sometimes at school students use the excuse of outdated resources as an excuse not to push through.”

But, says the young musician, “no matter what, push through and try and you just might succeed.”

This, the college-bound student says, is the message of the stage play.

In the fall, Destinee will attend Norfolk University as a music education major.

Teen HYPE is a local youth development organization that uses theater to educate teens about issues such as peer pressure, violence, unsafe sex and teen pregnancy. Proceeds help support Teen HYPE in its mission to empower urban youth to thrive through theater programs and after-school education to prevent teen pregnancy, the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“Miseducation” runs March 14-15 at the Millennium Center, 15600 J L Hudson Drive, Southfield. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person in advance (slightly higher at the door) and are on sale now at www.teenhype.org. For more information about Teen HYPE, call 313.831.8336.

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